Thursday, December 22, 2011


That industry is invariably averse to any strict surveillance against some of their questionable practices and will never agree, if given an option, in making any standards stricter has been known. There are hundreds of instances in the history of food industry during the last hundred years to prove the point that voluntary action for making the food safer and healthier never worked and expecting this sector to do so in future can be only a wishful thinking. Look at the latest instance of the industry lobbying against making safety limits for dioxins more stringent under some pretext or the other probably fearing adverse impact of such life saving food standards on its business. Here is a take on this vital issue that promises to become a new area of confrontation between the safety authorities and the industry allied with powerful farming lobby in USA. 

'Farmers and the food industry are trying to kill a proposed safety standard for dioxins, chemicals that can cause cancer and are widely found in meat, seafood and dairy products. Industry groups say a daily exposure limit for dioxin proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency isn't justified and could unnecessarily scare consumers away from meat and milk products. An individual could ingest more than the proposed daily limit of dioxin in a single meal, the groups say. "The implications of this action are chilling," they said in a recent letter to the White House. "EPA is proposing to create a situation in which most U.S. agricultural products could arbitrarily be classified as unfit for consumption." The proposed standard would not by itself trigger any regulations on farmers or food companies, but the government could later recommend measures, including restrictions on the content of livestock feed, to reduce the amount of dioxins that people could consume. The dioxin limit is the latest health and environmental issue that has pitted the Obama administration against industries who claim they're being subjected to unwarranted, job-stifling rules and regulations. "Dioxin is one of the most notorious and most studied chemicals," said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. "The industry is trying to change the definition of what is safe to avoid any further scrutiny."

Is it not unfortunate that even the farm sector, propped up by big farmers, has ganged up with the processing industry for the sake of protecting their turf ignoring the well being of the consumers who after all provide the "bread and butter" to them? It is forgotten that when risk impact is measured the benefit of doubt has to be given to the consumers and commercial players have to abide by agencies like World Health Organization and others responsible for fixing "goal posts" for consumer safety. Is it not a pity that food processing industry, already being hauled up for promoting unhealthy foods causing many life style diseases, is bent on repeating its past mistakes endangering the lives of the hapless consumer? One can only hope that better counsel will prevail on them to fall in line with universal safety regimes in stead of blind opposition to enforcement protocols based on sound science.


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